News Roundup and Notes: February 12, 2015

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

ISLAMIC STATE AUMF

President Obama asks Congress to authorize war against the Islamic State. The draft legislation proposed by the president yesterday would put a three-year sunset on U.S. action, and would permit the use of ground troops only in limited circumstances, such as Special Operations commandos and other special missions. The resolution would also repeal the 2002 AUMF that authorized the war in Iraq, but would leave in place the 2001 AUMF authorizing a global war against al-Qaeda. [New York Times’ Peter Baker]

President Obama’s request to Congress for an AUMF against the Islamic State was met with skepticism and concern by both parties yesterday, with most of the divide focused on language prohibiting the use of “enduring offensive ground combat operations” against ISIS, report Justin Sink and Kristina Wong. [The Hill] With Obama’s draft “drawing fire” from both sides, some lawmakers have expressed concern that Congress will succeed in passing anything, reports Burgess Everett et al. [Politico]

Potential 2016 GOP contenders are shying away from proposing what different action they would take against the Islamic State, despite heavily criticizing the proposals put forward by the president, according to Steve Holland and Alistair Bell. [Reuters]

The media weighs in. The New York Times editorial board welcomes the “indefensibly late” move toward war authorization, but in discussing some of the “excessively expansive” proposals urges Washington to resist the “temptation to keep the country on an unrestricted war footing.” The Wall Street Journal editorial board describes Obama’s draft as a “war irresolution,” the language of which “would codify the President’s war-fighting ambivalence.”

The latest AUMF is “merely about showmanship” for the Department of Defense who already believe that have the legal authority necessary, write Tim Mak and Nancy A. Youssef. [The Daily Beast]

If Congress goes along with the draft AUMF, “the next administration will claim that lawmakers have implicitly accepted the more expansive use of the formula” of remote “associations” between terrorist groups, writes Bruce Ackerman, adding that those who take the Constitution seriously should “insist on the repeal of the 2001 resolution and an explicit repudiation of the ‘associated forces’ doctrine.” [New York Times]

UKRAINE and RUSSIA

Ceasefire agreement. Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany have reached a ceasefire deal following 17 hours of peace talks on the Ukraine conflict. In a statement given after the talks in Minsk, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the ceasefire would come into effect on Sunday. Putin added that further key issues are still to be dealt with, including the withdrawal of heavy weapons. [The Guardian’s Matthew Weaver]

President Putin retains the “upper hand” in Ukraine due to his willingness to use military force to achieve his diplomatic aims, suggests Andrew Higgins. [New York Times]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The CIA is being forced to scale back counterterrorism efforts against AQAP in Yemen as the U.S. Embassy closes in Sana’a, marking a major setback in operations according to officials, report Greg Miller and Hugh Naylor. [Washington Post]

European Union leaders will today debate a range of ambitious counterterrorism measures in the wake of the recent attacks in France, including tightening border controls, exchanging airliner passenger manifests and combatting extremist online content. [AP]

A Belgian court ruled that Islamist group, Sharia4Belgium was a terrorist organization, and sentenced its founder to 12 years in prison. The group is responsible for sending dozens of its members to fight in Syria. [Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Dalton]

The Israeli navy intercepted a boat carrying munitions last month en route to the Gaza Strip from Sinai; charges against three suspected smugglers were filed this week. [AP] And the recently resigned head of a UN inquiry into last summer’s Gaza war said in an interview that since his appointment he had been subjected to pressure and threats from various sources. [New York Times’ Marlise Simons]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he is pushing for the removal of all sanctions against the country during talks with the P5+1 on a nuclear deal. [Washington Post’s Golnar Motevalli]

An amicus brief was filed with a federal court by a bipartisan group of senators yesterday in support of an ongoing lawsuit by the ACLU and The New York Times seeking the release of memos about U.S. drone programs overseas. [Politico’s Adam B. Lerner]

The trial judge and prosecutors in the September 11 trial struggled to decide a way forward yesterday following the discovery that the translator for one of the alleged 9/11 plotters was a former CIA linguist who had worked at a secret CIA prison. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

Global military spending will likely fall again this year, following an increase in 2014, due to weak growth forecasts and low oil prices prompting countries to limit defense budgets, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. [Wall Street Journal’s Robert Wall and Alexis Flynn] 

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About the Author(s)

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security